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Politicians Urge Tougher Punishment for Child Molesters

Posted October. 02, 2009 15:17,   


With public outcry rising over the relatively light punishment of a habitual sexual offender who raped an eight-year-old girl, politicians are urging stronger punishment for sexual crimes against children.

A 57-year-old man was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the sexual assault, a penalty which the majority of the Korean public has deemed too lenient.

A report obtained by main opposition Democratic Party lawmaker Choi Young-hee from the Health, Welfare and Family Affairs Ministry yesterday said that among 1,839 convicted child molesters in 2007, just seven (0.4 percent) got life in prison, 774 (42.1 percent) were fined, and 562 (30.5 percent) got suspended sentences.

In particular, 23.2 percent of people who raped children under 13 had their sentences suspended. Among those who committed sexual assault against children under 13, 48.4 percent were given suspended sentences and 18.8 percent were fined.

Choi said, “Unless prosecutors, police and judges change their views, more children like (the victim) will live with indelible physical and psychological scars.”

Ruling Grand National Party lawmaker Joo Sung-young, a member of the parliamentary committee for legislation and judiciary affairs, quoted a Justice Ministry report as saying that among 5,948 people investigated for sexual offenses against children under 13 in 2007 between January and July, 2,501 or 42 percent were exempted from indictment.

“We must enact a law that permanently isolates sex offenders against children under 13 from society by sentencing them to life in prison,” Joo said.

Separately, the ruling party will pursue a law revision to toughen punishment for child molesters by eliminating a limit to prison sentences.

Ruling party floor leader Ahn Sang-soo told a meeting of his party’s supreme council, “We will push to scrap Article 42 of the penal code that restricts prison terms (for child molesters) to 15 years,” adding, “A court should be allowed to either hand out a life sentence to those who commit an inhumane and brutal crime or determine the length of prison in a flexible manner.”